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UNODC Global Study on Homicide 2023


The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has recently published the Global Study on Homicide 2023 report, revealing that homicide surpasses armed conflict and terrorism combined as a leading cause of death. The report delves into the various aspects of homicide, distinguishing between lawful and unlawful killings, intentional and unintentional acts. Additionally, it scrutinizes homicides associated with criminal activities, interpersonal conflicts, and socio-politically motivated incidents, such as the targeted killing of human rights activists, humanitarian workers, and journalists.


GS I: Social Issues

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Key Insights from the Global Study on Homicide 2023
  2. Key Highlights on Water-Related Homicides in India

Key Insights from the Global Study on Homicide 2023

Annual Homicide Statistics:

  • Approximately 440,000 deaths occurred annually due to homicide between 2019 and 2021.

Lethal Surge in 2021:

  • 2021 witnessed an exceptionally lethal year with 458,000 homicides.
  • Contributing factors include economic repercussions from the Covid-19 pandemic and an increase in organized crime, gang-related, and socio-political violence.

Homicide vs. Conflict Deaths:

  • Despite a more than 95% surge in conflict deaths between 2021 and 2022, global homicide rates in 2022 were twice that of conflict deaths.

Organized Crime Impact:

  • Organized Crime accounted for 22% of global homicides, rising to 50% in the Americas.
  • Competition among organized crime groups and gangs significantly escalates intentional homicides.

Regional Disparities:

  • The Americas had the highest regional homicide rate per capita in 2021 (15 per 100,000 population).
  • Africa recorded the highest absolute number of homicides (176,000) with a rate of 12.7 per 100,000 population.

Gender Disparities:

  • Men constituted 81% of homicide victims and 90% of suspects.
  • Women were more likely to be killed by family members or intimate partners.

Impact on Children:

  • 15% of homicide victims in 2021 were children, totaling 71,600 boys and girls.
  • Targeted Killings:
  • Deliberate killings of human rights defenders, journalists, aid workers, etc., accounted for 9% of global homicides.
  • Humanitarian aid workers faced an increased threat level during 2017-2022.

Projections and Sustainable Goals:

  • The global homicide rate is projected to decrease to 4.7 in 2030, falling short of the Sustainable Development Goals target.
  • Africa is identified as the most vulnerable region due to its younger population, persistent inequality, and climate-related challenges.

Key Highlights on Water-Related Homicides in India

Disputes Over Property, Land, and Water:

  • Nearly 16.8% of murder cases recorded in India between 2019 and 2021 were associated with disputes over property, land, or access to water.

Specific Water-Related Homicides:

  • Approximately 0.5% of recorded murders in India (300 cases) between 2019 and 2021 were explicitly attributed to conflicts related to water, signaling the emergence of water-related disputes as a significant contributor to homicides.

Drivers of Water-Related Violence:

  • Population growth, economic expansion, and climate change were identified as key factors exacerbating tensions over water access in India.
  • These factors contribute to increased violence associated with disputes over water resources, indicating a complex interplay of environmental and socio-economic dynamics.

-Source: Down To Earth

February 2024